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The SED Project on the second year

A panel of experts from the Central Office of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) will conduct a mid-term monitoring and evaluation for the Social Enterprises Development (SED) Project on June 11. The team, led by myself as the program manager and Doc Cely Binoya as the program leader, has been actively promoting social enterprises in the pilot areas of Bicol -Camarines Sur and Albay. We look forward to sharing the project SED progress and seeking valuable insights on further enhancing the project efforts.

The SED is a landmark project that aims to build self-reliance, resilience, and optimism for change among disaster survivors in poverty-stricken communities and develop their social enterprises to help them uplift themselves from poverty and backwardness. Poverty alleviation is no quick-fix project. There is a Chinese saying that with persistence, even “water droplets can drill and make a hole through the stone.”  Poverty alleviation is a long-term task. The project focuses on the long-term goal for economic, societal, and environmental change with the mindset of young social entrepreneurs alongside the women and working entrepreneurs of Bugkos Kabataan, Ilaw ng Kababaihan, and People’s Organization of Disaster Survivors (PODiS) who strive to overcome social and individual difficulties to seek a life of change.  

The two-year SED project “Developing a Framework for Developing Social Enterprises for Economic Resilience of Disaster Survivors in Bicol” with a CHEd grant, is a research and community-applied region-wide project of  Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation in Canaman, Camarines Sur, the Central Bicol State University Agriculture, the Tabang Bikol Movement as the project’s community-based regional humanitarian organization as partner with Bicol State University and Bicol State College of Applied Science and Technology. Its accomplishments and lessons gained during project implementation are relevant to national and local development.

The SED Project has achieved significant milestones in formulating a functional framework for developing sustainable social enterprises for economic resilience among disaster survivors in Bicol. These achievements include breakthroughs, increased knowledge, broader linkages, and information dissemination. The project has helped raise capacities among the intended beneficiaries, the disaster survivors and their organizations, and communities, especially with the barangays and government agencies in the locality and the region. Key regional partners, such as NGAs like the DTI, DoST, DSWD, CDA, DoLE, OCD, and DoT, have provided support in various ways. The Chamber of Commerce, the Archdiocese of Caceres, and local churches have added value to the project’s broader partnerships. The radio program Buhay Marinero over DWNX and the Tabang Bikol Movement column in Bicol Mail have become adequate media outlets to promote community-based social enterprises as a key to local development.

Regular meetings, on-site community, and house-to-house visitations are crucial platforms for problem-solving, addressing challenges, and ensuring cohesion in day-to-day project implementation. Hundreds of women, men, and youth who only finished grade and high school experience increased knowledge. It raised capacities with newly acquired entrepreneurship skills in essential documentation, accounting, marketing, networking, registration, public speaking, and writing reports—organized skills training on alternative livelihood, agri, and aqua-based social enterprises of products indigenous to the locality. The IP women of Ocampo are a testament to success where they develop belief in themselves and their capacity to build their social enterprises as they struggle for their right to self-determination. They draw inspiration from the Ilaw ng Kababaihan of Canaman with homemade citronella-scented candles.

As the project ends in December, it is poised to deliver long-term benefits and address remaining challenges.  A project succeeds if the intended “poor beneficiaries” become organized and empowered citizens in resilient and sustainable social enterprises. Project staff are frustrated when they fail to mobilize people to join meetings and participate in discussions. They explore, assess, and re-strategize ways and means. Ultimately, they found that directly going to the people, taking them to heart, and acting fast on their problems is a more effective mobilizing principle.   

Partnering with integrators, like JaimEliza, a private enterprise, helps the SED and the beneficiaries gain networks, exposure, market area, skills, and know-how. The Ilaw Hilot Association (IHA), a new social enterprise from 22 new massage therapists who graduated from a 10-day SED-initiated training, has partnered with a local donor to run their wellness center of “Hilot and Akyu.” Project objectives aligned well with the Philippine Development Plan at the regional level. The Regional Development Council, through its Economic Development Council, unanimously endorsed the SED project, and the Libmanan LGU, with the Mayor, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the SED proponents. Six identified Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on poverty, health and well-being, inclusive education, gender equality, sustained and productive employment, and partnerships are well aligned and implemented in the projects.

The need to institutionalize the project gains increases as the project advances to the finish line. The setting up of an Institute for Social Enterprises using the outputs and mobilizing the SED project instructors, leaders, and beneficiaries who continue to gain experience, know-how, and expertise as they practice their new-found skills is an achievable target that would inspire more success and benefit more people to overcome as disaster survivors. The RDC had asked the TBM and the SED project to submit their position papers to the ongoing legislative agenda to pass a law on Social Enterprises, with more than 20 bills pending in Congress.


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